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This is what happens when budget cuts are the only tool in your bag

You get the government you’re willing to pay for.

[F]rom Oct. 23 to Oct. 30, [Peter] Wang counted a total of 12 [traffic signal] outages at various intersections, from Barker Cypress down to Telge Road.

He initially thought it was an act of vandalism, he said.

However, after voicing the matter to the Harris County Precinct Three, he received the true explanation for the outages.

“Budget shortfalls have limited our traffic signal maintenance funding,” Wayne Gisler, the Assistant Manager of Traffic Engineering for Harris County, said in a email to Wang, “ In order to maintain the signals operating in a safe and efficient manner during our fiscal crisis, we’ve had to limit maintenance to emergency repairs only.”

Many understand the pitfalls of the economy and the financial bind that it has imposed on several fronts.

However, some believe that more funds should be funneled into signal infrastructure opposed to other arenas.

“I understand the budget but there’s a bigger picture. They’ve spent tax money on work for the Grand Parkway,” Wang said. “If you build a piece of infrastructure you have to be able to maintain it. If you can’t maintain it, then you shouldn’t build something new.”

Do you suppose that if it were the city of Houston instead of Harris County that had been forced to take this action that we’d be hearing about it from all of the professional critics of the city’s finances? I’m sure they’ll start clucking their tongues about this any time now. I just wonder how many replacement signal bulbs that 2007 property tax rate cut could have paid for.

I know everyone says that just as families tighten their belts and cut expenditures when they experience tough times, so should government. It’s just that families also look at ways to bring in more money if they need to do so in order to keep paying for the things they really need, like food and shelter. So far, all we’ve been willing to let government do is continually define down what we need. I have no idea where and when that may end.

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3 Comments

  1. Peter Wang says:

    I just got back from Luanda, Angola, and unincorporated Harris County looks a little bit like Luanda with all of the semi-derelict traffic lights.

  2. John says:

    Agreed County and COH are both being run by folks who have zero financial discipline. How is that dumb soap box derby looking to be a big fat waste now. One would assume if there is an accident at a broken street signal that the lawyers would be all over it to sue the County.

  3. […] money to fix traffic lights, but there’s always money for the Grand Parkway. Commissioners Court on Tuesday authorized […]